Life at COHAD is pretty hard – the children all have very busy, physical days. We have been amazed by the energy of these young people, how they face each day simply getting on with the tasks required. There is no arguing, sulking of refusal to help out – they are all expected to work as a team.
No only must the children go to school, they must also work the land alongside the Mummies to grow their own food, this provides a never ending round of tasks as there can be up to three crop rotations a year.
Here is a typical day:
6.00am-7.30am: The children get up at 6am with the dawn and get dressed. They have water and posha (casava flour made into a dough mixture) for breakfast then wash up in cold water with a block of soap. The house is mopped and swept before school. during the different seasons the children may start the day in the fields planting/ploughing or harvesting. Children over the age of 12 will wash of their own clothes, again in cold water with a block of soap. They then walk the 15 minutes to school to start at 8am.
8am – 1pm: The children are in school
1pm-2pm: The children walk back home for lunch – prepared fresh by the Mummies. Most days Lunch is beans and matooka (mashed savoury banana).
4pm-6pm: The rest of the day involves helping with the cooking, washing up and working in the fields. There is always time made for play as well.
6pm – 9pm: The remainder of the day is spent doing school work, bathing (again buckets of water), spending time in their own house family. The children also have supper when it is available – this maybe ground nuts (peanut like nuts).
It is dark by about 8pm as days are always a similar length. Lighting after 7.30pm is dependent on small solar units so is limited.
On a final note – whilst life for these children is demanding and tough they are so full of joy and mischief! It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of their lives in a small way, watching them flourish and mature over the last few years. They will have a home with COHAD until they complete their education, possible extending into their early 20s.